In this survey, John Gross gives portraits of major literary figures from Frances Jeffrey, the first editor of the "Edinburgh Review", through Thomas Carlyle, Matthew Arnold and many others to the advent of F.R.Leavis and Raymond Williams. He looks at "the higher journalism", the expansion of the reading public, the byways of British liberalism, the rise of English literature as an academic subject and the impact of T.S. Eliot and modernism. In a new afterword he provides updates on the later careers of Cyril Connolly, Geoffrey Grigson and Leavis and discusses the new style of literary critics who have evolved from the universities. Finally he considers the dominant role of the media and entertainment.
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A very intelligent, interesting, and intensely readable book. -- Isaiah Berlin No praise can be too high...remarkable for its balance and sense of perspective. -- Noel Annan The New York Review Of Books Strewn with marvelous bits: deft apercus, biographical portraits of great subtlety and force, wit, commonsensical intelligence everywhere. No one who cares about the state of literature can afford to neglect this book. -- Joseph Epstein A brilliant account of English literary culture, as engaging as it is illuminating. -- Lionel TrillingAbout the Author:
John Gross is theatre critic of the Sunday Telegraph and former editor of the Times Literary Supplement. For a number of years he was also a staff writer for the New York Times in New York. His other books include the classic study The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters, and the widely acclaimed Shylock: Four Hundred Years in the Life of a Legend. He lives in London.
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